Figures estimate 2.5 million burglaries occur in the U.S. annually though these numbers are decreasing. Most all states define burglary in the same way though penalties vary. Ohio treats burglary as a felony or misdemeanor and requires certain elements for a case.
Elements of burglary
Burglary is generally defined as illegally entering a structure with the intent to commit a crime. Under common law, burglary was narrowly defined as entering a residence at night, but the law has broadened. The three elements that Ohio requires for burglary are trespassing in a habitable structure by stealth, deceit, or force.
Occupied structures are commonly used as temporary or permanent accommodations, such as trailers, with or without a person present. Stealth is entering a structure to avoid getting discovered, such as not ringing a doorbell or knocking. Gaining entry by force may occur from kicking a door open, picking or sawing a lock, or prying or breaking a window.
Deception is gaining entry using fraud or coercion, such as an offender pretending to be a government official. It still counts as burglary even if the offender didn’t enter the structure all the way. The criminal defense team could claim that the defendant had permission to be there, and they lacked intent.
Penalties and charges
An aggravated burglary occurs when a person is inside the structure and the offender carries a weapon or explosive and/or threatens harm. A first-degree aggravated burglary charge commonly includes maximum penalties of a $20,000 fine and 16.5 years in jail.
A second-degree burglary charge involves trespassing and intent to commit a crime with or without a person present. Maximum penalties for a second-degree offense include $15,000 in fines and a jail term of two to eight years. A third-degree offense involves intent without a person present and includes a maximum penalty of 36 months of jail and a $10,000 fine.
Burglary charges have serious consequences, but prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense team may help identify weak areas in their case or attempt a plea bargain.